creating beauty

(750 words)

Notes from the Heart (Email Newsletter, May 19, 2019)

Hello my loves,

Alabama. Arkansas. Georgia. Kentucky. Louisiana. Mississippi. Missouri. Ohio. Utah.

Are we breathing? I'm here, breathing with you. Keep breathing.

I took a saltwater bath last night while the moon grew full. Three liters of mineral water were consumed and every inch of my body tended to with a clay scrub. The bathwater grew quiet, while candlelight and bubbles hid all of the dead skin and dirt my cleansing left behind.

Then, I unplugged the drain.

Massive swirling and a loud sucking sound ensued as the tub emptied and the remnants of what I'd already washed from my body became uncomfortably visible. Shallow water always reveals what's lurking on the bottom.

I thought about the ugliness on display among political majorities in these nine states with regard to women's rights. I really want this sudden swirl of vile legislation to mean the archaic and unenlightened notion is on its way out.

I keep thinking about all of the women who marched in January 2017. Millions and millions of us, there were so many.

We are all still here, breathing. Even in maroon states, I know there are wise women. Some of them have written for Lucia. None of us are alone.

I believe small circles are infinitely powerful, in ways seen and unseen.

Indeed, I know they are happening in kitchens and living rooms and coffee shops all over country, and the world.

Here in Seattle, we gathered in late April. I've come to cherish small, quiet evenings with these women in my life. We manage to come together like this every few months. Never as often as I would like, but often enough. The softening, vulnerability, and strength that becomes possible, simply by being seen and heard and held shifts things. And knowing we can shift things is where power lies.

In fact, this is the first rule of creativity. It is so important to remember: Reality is malleable and we can shape it.

Every practicing artist knows this, if not consciously then intuitively. We are all artists, too. Simply being human makes us an artist. Whether your canvas is painted or planted or spoken aloud or moved through in silence, each day ends as a new reality you have co-created.

The way we inhabit our clothes, our homes, our friendships, our intimate partnerships, our workplaces and our communities, changes things. We alter reality every single moment of every single day. I think about this a lot, and try to do my best to create beauty.

I remind myself:

Beauty is a kind word.

Beauty is a courageous voice.

Beauty is the exquisiteness of listening.

Beauty is curious.

Beauty is a hopeful, generous thought.

Beauty is humble, a small act of kindness.

Beauty is patience.

Beauty is self-care (yes, self-care).

Beauty is a decision, a choice, about what I will create.

My mom and I spent a recent weekend gardening together at her home.

Growing things is in my blood. I am the daughter of nursery farmers and grew up speaking the language of flowers. It feels as ingrained in me as DNA and also hazy, like something I knew a long, long time ago.

Being with my mother in a garden helps me remember that I know.

We dug deep holes and stood up trellises for young apple trees, then gently coaxed their branches out along the trellis arms and tied them loose with green arbor tape. Now the tree has more room to grow, which will mean more and easier-to-reach apples, which will mean more apple pies, which means my dad will be delighted come fall, which is part of the beautiful reality that we are creating.

She sent me home with a flat of blue lobelia (my new favorite color) and I spent the following Saturday planting them here in my yard.

I do believe the dead skin and dirt is on it's way out with the bathwater. It may take most of our lifetimes, but the drain has been unplugged. I am inspired by the courageous women and men who are giving voice to their hearts and creating change. I am as amazed by the energy and voices of women in Congress like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez as I am by the quiet strength of the armchair poets who are writing about what is real and raw in their world, and sharing it with us. We need all of these voices, all of these artists. We need you, too.

How are you creating creating beauty? Let us count the ways.

Sending so much love,

P.S. I am donating to NARAL and to The Yellowhammer Fund. NARAL has been fighting for a woman's right to choose since 1977. When I think of all the talented and passionate lawyers and staff who give up high-paying careers in order to do this work, I get teary-eyed. The Yellowhammer Fund provides funding for anyone seeking care at one of Alabama's three abortion clinics and will help with other barriers to access like travel and lodging costs. I know my donation is like a drop in the proverbial bucket, but when I think about all of the millions of people who marched in January 2017 and imagine all of them doing the same thing, suddenly my "drop" feels like part of a powerful rain.

P.P.S. I'm reading Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. This book came recommended by my friend Wesley in Charlotte, NC, who happens to be a pretty phenomenal woman and is a couples and marriage counselor. I just started reading and have already uncovered gems. The main message is basically: Forget about learning how to argue better, analyzing your early childhood, and making grand gestures. Instead, recognize that we are all emotionally attached and dependent our partners in much the same way a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing and protection. So far, I'm 65 pages in and I love it. So does my oft-wild amygdala. Thank you, Wesley.

Laura Lowery is the founder, editor and publisher of Lucia. She does her best to lead a creative life. Whether triumphant or stumbling, Laura shares daily notes (that are often weekly) here on luciajournal, including stories, behind-the-scenes happenings, little doses of inspiration, and large quantities of curiosity and heart. She is pleased to meet you.